A 52-year-old Panorama City woman was arrested by sheriff's detectives today on suspicion of targeting elderly people and bilking them of their money.
Myrta Molina was named in a felony complaint with theft from an elder. She was held on $150,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in Bellflower Superior Court on Thursday.
The complaint alleges that between February 2012 and January 2013, she placed personal ads in a senior citizen newsletter seeking relationships with men over 65. She used a fictitious name.
In January, an 81-year-old Lakewood man who suffered from dementia picked up the newsletter and contacted her, according to Detective Christopher Derry of the Commercial Crimes Bureau.
She met the man, wearing a wig to alter her appearance. She led the victim to believe she was in love with him and then began asking for and receiving cash for various purported reasons.
In June the man was hospitalized for kidney failure and his daughter discovered that he had withdrawn $26,000 from his bank account in the first six months of this year. Bank surveillance photos were obtained which showed Molina escorting him into the bank to withdraw the cash.
In July, she got him to withdraw $80,000 in cash, but employees at a bank in Lakewood sensed something was wrong and refused to give it to him. They contacted the man's daughter.
Molina told the bank manager she was his fiancee and demanded she be given the money in cash.
Detectives were able to freeze his accounts and a criminal investigation was begun.
This month sheriff's detectives executed a search warrant at her Panorama City home and recovered $5,300 in cash. They also uncovered evidence showing she had targeted numerous elderly men during the past two years in places such as Downey, Norwalk, Pacific Palisades, Sun Valley, Thousand Oaks, West Los Angeles and Westlake Village.
Anyone with information on the case was asked to contact Detective Derry at (562) 906-5418.